Blink 182, you probably heard of these guys. Tom DeLonge, Mark Hoppus, and Travis Barker. They gotta song complaining about being 23 when they're actually 33. Well, maybe it's a retrospective. Anyway I had a bunch of their CDs, which was weird because my kids didn't. Later, I found they were ripping them onto their computers and burning their own, so I promptly beat them silly and confined them to a dark closet lashed to old furnace filters for violating the copyrights of honest, hard working, musical stylists.
Sum 41 I never heard of these guys. Being as old as their damned number, I was trying to figure it out. What the hell is it with bands these days you gotta have a number? What the fuck? Lemme tell you something. In my day we didn't need no frigging number. You had your Sex Pistols and your Ramones. What number did they need? And we didn't go around screaming fuck in every song like we were going to get laid just for saying it. What's wrong with kids today? I mean, when Joey Ramone said: "Beat on the brat with a baseball bat," you knew he meant, "Beat on the fuckin brat with a baseball bat." Like, the fuckin was "understood", and it wouldn’t have rhymed as well with it in there.
New Found Glory Now these kids, they have reasonably clean mouths but only one fuckin song anybody has ever heard. Nice kids though. Really nice kids.
So here's how we got to meet all these guys and I took my little kids see a flaming thirty-foot long FUCK descend from the sky and I became the best father in the world for it instead of going to jail like I should have.
It starts with the fact I have a rather long Italian name. It's the kind of name that either belongs to a body riddled with bullets spit from a thompson submachinegun or a guy twisting your arm for your lunch money. (Actually, a movie star, but I digress...) Lots of vowels.
It's not the sort of name you expect other people to have, so when you meet someone who has the same last name you're pretty sure they're the brother your parents accidentally left in the parking lot at Walmart when you were six but never told anybody because they knew the kid could fend for himself. It's even weirder when somebody has exactly the same name as you, front and back, because you go through life being the only one of these you ever heard of. Somebody with exactly the same weird first and last name must be you. Right?
So my sister-in-law gets a call from a lady looking for my brother. She used to go out with a guy with the same name as my brother, and as it's this long-ish Italian last name stapled to a normal-ish front name, it has to be the same guy. "Am I right?" she says.
To which my sister-in-law says, "You take one step near us and I'll bust your ass," because she don't want none of my brother's ex-girlfriends (and there are many) buzzing around the house like fricking fruit bees, or whatever, causing a split. You follow?
"Don't get your panties in a twist," says the lady on the phone, "Because if he's not my ex-boyfriend then you guys must be family." And it's all starting to sound a lot like an episode of Hee Haw or some kind of strange gathering of Disney afficionadoes where incest is the primary means of entertainment.
They get to talking and wouldn't you know it, the lady says to my sister-in-law, "I'm Doris Hoobler," to which my sister-in-law falls off her seat in shock and agony. When she picks up the phone with her mouth full of drool she says, "You can’t be Doris Hoobler, because I'm Doris Hoobler."
(Please note, dear reader, that the name "Hoobler" is not the real name here. I chose it to protect my poor sister-in-law from the repercussions of publicity, and I can't think of any name less Italian than "Hoobler", except maybe "Scheverdnadze" which is too fucking hard to spell. And her first name isn't "Doris", either. Nobody has been named "Doris" since the last new episode of Leave it to Beaver, so I'm pretty safe with that one, I think.)
And so the two Doris Hooblers become fast friends. They talk for hours and hours. They exchange e-mails. Then my brother gets in on the whole Doris Hoobler thing and they all start e-mailing each other like some long lost Hoobler family reunion. How weird that Doris Hoobler went out with Dwayne Hoobler and they weren’t even in the same family, and then my brother is Dwayne Hoobler, and here he is thinking he’s the only one on the planet when we now know there’s another one floating around out there like pork in space.
So one day my brother comes to me and says, "Hey", and proceeds to tell me this whole Hoobler story, which is interesting because in the twisted reality of this story my name is Billy-bob Hoobler, and I just love meeting more Hooblers because the older I get the more interested I am in finding family members that might be rich.
"That's really weird," I say, but I really mean, "That's fucking weird," but don't say it because there are kids around. Those would be the little Hooblers over there. Mina. Dina. And Bina. My little daughters. Nice, eh? You get your eyes back in your head, boy. You say one word and I'm going to pull your bottom lip over your head and back to your asshole.
So my brother says, "You wouldn't want to go to a Blink 182 concert, would you? It seems that Doris Hoobler is the manager for that band and a promoter for MCA Universal, and she like, has all these backstage passes and front row seats for the lollapalooza thingy over at Shoreline Amphitheater. I told her none of us knew who that band was and anyway, it was probably too loud for my older brother who only listens to greasy old Mantovanni records."
Mina Hoobler, that would be the oldest of my daughters in this psychedelic acid trip of a story says, "Fuck that shit. Take the goddamned tickets uncle Dwayne."
And my brother and I looked at each other, because before that moment the most aggressive thing Mina had ever said was, "Please pass the ketchup, quickly," and I complimented her on her proper use of adverbs, besides.
I considered washing out her mouth with a bar of soap, but decided that would get me arrested for child abuse, so I chided her gently instead by saying, "Nice words for a young lady," summoning up the famed Hoobler sarcasm.
But then I said, "Take the goddamned tickets, Dwayne," because not only did I actually know who Blink 182 wuz, but I had some of their CDs, and I ain't never been backstage even at my high school play.
So Dwayne called Doris Hoobler in San Francisco and told her we would be dee-lited to accept her generous offer, and that we'd need six tickets.
Doris was extremely happy to oblige. She loved having family members around.
We met her at the will call booth at Shoreline in Mountain View, California. She gave us some passes to put around our necks and some stickers that identified us as friends of the band, which was strange because none of us knew the band, and I was very worried about how violently my young daughters wanted to get to know the band.
So we went backstage to where they had their busses. It seems the Blink guys don’t like to ride together anymore, so they have three individual bowling-bag style busses so they can each ride alone without the environment being polluted their band mates. The Blink guys were playing basketball with the security team. Well, two of them were. That would be Tom and Mark. Travis was rehearsing his tunes in a special portable drum room, just for him. And I wondered why Tom and Mark were so unconcerned about rehearsing their music, but this would come clear to me later during their performance.
We gave a hearty Hoobler, "Hi,” to Tom and Mark, and Doris introduced us as her family, which we pretended we were. Tom and Mark were pretty noncommittal about the whole thing, and acted as if we were there to bring them coffee or donuts or drugs, none of which they wanted. So they didn't say squat to us. Not one word. Not even, "er, hey." Not even just the, "er".
Doris blushed and apologized all over the place and made a lot of excuses for them being really anti-social and having a big rock star attitude and all. And I was going to individually break each of their noses for disappointing poor Mina, Dina, and Bina, but the security guard they had with them was the size of Lawrence Taylor, hell, it probably was LT himself. So I wasn't about to fuck with them lest LT pull my spine out through my eyesockets.
Doris, after a little pow-wow with the boys, did manage to get them to sit on folding chairs when Travis came out, fresh from rehearsal, and Mr. LT look-alike took our pictures with them. In the snapshots they look like we're making them shove liver and onions up their asses, but we're all smiley the way the Hoobler family is known to be.
Then we got to meet the other bands that happened to be playing at this gig.
Sum 41. What a bunch of really nice young men. They were talkative, polite, and generally respectful of Mina, Dina, and Bina's wishes to have autographs and physical contact. Naturally, not much happened under Dad's watchful eye, much to everyone's disappointment. But I don't take no shit from rock stars where my kids come into play, you get my drift?
Anyway, all of the Sum 41 guys took five minutes each to talk to my kiddos. They even said, "Hello sir," to me. I'm not kidding. They fucking called me, "Sir." Can you believe it? What wonderful gentlemen.
Then Doris brought the guys from New Found Glory to talk to us and they were just as nice and respectful as the Sum 41 guys. My kids weren't as interested in talking to them as they were to the Sum 41 guys, and I was kind of embarrassed because for about 15 minutes their lead singer was just standing around twiddling his thumbs with nobody talking to him. So I went over and said, "Hi, how's the rock star business?" and told him I went to school for a while at University of Miami, which is in Coral Gables, Florida, which is where they're from. And we had a nice talk and he called me "Sir," too.
The nice bands offered to let my kids watch the show from the stage, but there were rules. Once the show started, security sealed off the stage area so no one could go on or come off. That meant if you had to take a potty break between sets, you were screwed, or fucked as Blink 182 would say. So my kids declined and we went to sit in our celebrity guest invitation-only seats, and everybody around us presumed we were somebody when we were all just Hooblers.
Then the bands started. Well, let me say that I was impressed with the talent and artistry of those bands called Sum 41 and New Found Glory, though I had only ever heard one of each of their songs. They said, "fuck," a whole lot, but they were tight. They played clean sets. Knew their shit and did exceptionally professional shows. I was particularly impressed by the Sum 41 guitar-player’s Steve Vai imitation. To him, Steve Vai solos are in the same era as renaissance compositions, so pretty much you have your J.S. Bach and your Steve Howe and there’s no difference. How wonderful it must be to live in a world where your parents won’t rip your lungs out for blasting Megadeth because they consider it “the classics”. (But I digress.)
After the two warm-up acts, it was time for the headliners. And the crowd was ready for Blink 182. Everyone was whistling their songs in anticipation of their glorious opening, and a mosh pit was forming even though the Shoreline security team was doing their best to keep it from happening.
Doris Hoobler came out and warned us about the Blink 182 opening. She said, “Hold your ears. I’m not kidding. Fifteen seconds into the first song those cannons over there are going to explode. The guys hate it because it makes them deaf for the rest of the show.”
And I was going to comment that wasn’t it strange they would have to play deaf, wasn’t there a better way to have a show than deafening the performers fifteen seconds into their act? But Doris was way too busy to listen to my twisted Hoobler logic, and she got a few more pictures of us having a good time, gave us some t-shirts, and went on. Went on. That is, she got in her car and drove home, because she was sick of the Blink 182 act, having seen it more times than her own arms, so she left us to enjoy it on our own, reminding us one last time to “plug our ear holes” or risk certain hearing loss.
What marvelous advice. How wonderful, I thought. What a wonderful way to spend a nice warm evening out with the children, listening to young men scream about fucking girls and rabbits and having our senses destroyed by explosions. Surely the police would be waiting at my vehicle ready to take me away in plastic zip-tie handcuffs for distorting the values of minors. What a great father I must be, Billy-bob Hoobler.
My children were oblivious to the cognitive dissonance that would surely turn me into a serial arsonist. As far as they were concerned, I was the best parent a kid could have. I’d loaded them up with Snickers bars and popcorn and introduced them to guys who had videos on MTV. What more could a kid want except to see a 10-foot tall, 30-foot long cardboard impression of the word fuck falling out of the sky in flames?
Well, they were soon to get their wish. The lights went down, the curtains parted, and Tom, Mark, and Travis began to play. As they did the fuck came from the sky and burst into white hot jets of fire that nearly singed my eyebrows so I know poor Travis, who was sitting right in front of the flames trying to pound the drums, must have had his back covered in space-age aluminum and titanium, because that is the only way in God’s great creation he could have avoided instant cremation.
We were so dumbfounded by the burning obscenity that we forgot to hold our ears. So, when the 55-millimeter guns went off we were instantly deafened and blown off our feet into a heap on the candy bar wrappers and roach clips.
When we stood we could barely hear a thing. This turned out to be a good thing for a couple of reasons. First, the boys of Blink 182 couldn’t figure out which songs to sing. When they did, they all started playing different songs together. The audience would start singing along, half of them singing along with the song Mark had chosen and half singing along with Tom, and Travis sat pounding the drums looking like he’d just come out of the shopping mall and couldn’t remember where he parked the Volvo. Fights were starting to break out among the audience members who were blaming each other for not knowing the lyrics to the tune they thought was being played. Then fights broke out on stage, with Mark and Tom blaming each other for picking the wrong song. Poor Travis sat there looking like he wanted to go home or join the Motley Crue revival effort. He knew what the song was and tried to cue his band mates by pounding out a few bars, but as each of their songs has fundamentally the same rhythm he could provide no useful data to the ensuing melee.
Eventually, Tom and Mark settled on some songs to play for the concert and they started. Then their lighting system began to fall and get in their way. I think it may have been designed to do that, but Mark was obviously unhappy the hot lights were dropping onto his head, and he spent time swatting at them which took away from his singing anything in particular.
The audience seemed to be perfectly happy to not have Mark sing anything, and they filled in all the lyrics while he swatted at the lights as if they were swarming bats, occasionally playing the bass and contributing to the song. Other times he seemed to be playing whatever notes pleased him irrespective of the song involved. And I suspect that had he been rehearsing like Travis, he might have done better at picking notes that went along in a pleasing manner with the rest of the fucking set.
My brother Dwane and I, having played our share of lousy gigs in cheesy bars in New Jersey, knew the phenomenon very well. Get wrecked. Don’t practice. Sound like shit. And I thought this would be a good lesson for Mina, Dina, and Bina, as they would learn the value of their own studies.
“You don’t want to end up like these boys,” Dwane and I said in unison as we grabbed the youngsters by the arms and left Tom and Mark swatting at their stage lighting and occasionally playing their guitars and screaming “fuck”. The fire from the burning f-word had long since died out along with our enthusiasm for seeing any more. It would have been better to see them burst into flames or have their guitars melt than the sorry ass performance we had to witness, and I commented to Dwayne as we slurked toward the SUV that if they had been killed by their own stupidity the music might have been better. At any rate, if those nice boys from Sum 41 or New Found Glory had been allowed to play longer, we might not have had to witness the commiserable dreck that passes for wholesome rock-and-roll entertainment in the new millennium. What’s happened to the world, we wondered? Where was Richard Hell and the Voidoids or The Cramps when you needed them? Don’t the children of today have any values? The Fugs could have blown these guys off the stage and wouldn’t have had to crack a single obscenity except an occasional “shit, where’s my pick?”
When we got home we tucked the kiddies in for a sound evening’s sleep. They were blissfully naive of the horrors of what we had witnessed, and it seemed best to let them wallow in the happiness of their ignorance. Tomorrow they would go to school and hand out personally autographed Blink 182 CDs and show off their t-shirts and band-inflicted neck hickeys, and for a brief and shining moment the Hoobler kids would be popular. And they fell asleep whispering that I, Billy-bob Hoobler, was indeed the finest father a child could wish for, and Dwayne the best uncle, and did we think Doris could get them tickets for Linkin Park next week?
We turned out the lights and sent them to slumber land with their ears happily ringing with tinnitus, and their minds full of flaming obscenities and sloppy guitar playing, snoozing in soft violent dreams that only children can have.
That night Dwane and I plotted about how we could get tickets to the next Husker Du reunion tour and how we would take the girls to the grave of Wendy O. Williams so they could learn our true musical roots and the values of performing in whipped cream, and appreciate the finer points of the classics.
next episode is in weird headless death cult of writer apostles